The Futility of trying to change others
This article was first published in the Hindustan Times on Jun 13, 2015. All rights reserved with Hindustan Times.
We create our problems by wanting things or people to be different than they currently are.
Jim Rohn rightly remarked, “I’ve discovered that you can’t change people. They can change themselves.” This is indeed a fact – a fact that took me long to learn. We may help each other change, but the responsibility for our own change lies within each one of us. The seemingly miniscule shift from resistance to willingness is a person’s own personal and private decision – and no one can do this for them, except themselves.
Trying to change another person to our ways is actually disrespectful. In a subtle unconscious way we are saying that we know better than them. We are saying that we don’t trust them enough to figure it out for themselves. This naturally creates a wall of resistance as we are saying to another that they are not good enough for us the way they are. Is it any wonder that we get negative reactions and form strained relations with others, even though we are convinced that we are acting in their best interests? In fact, if we are really honest with ourselves, we see that our intentions are always to our own interests. When we try to change another, we are also saying to the universe that we know better. If the universe has so much respect for us to let us be, then who are we to question and change others?
Respecting another means letting them go through their journey of life, inspite of it not fitting with our own ideas. Even if it is a path to self destruction, it is their decision and their learning. Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have. Or just because someone doesn’t perform a task the way you think it should be done, doesn’t mean they will not succeed doing it their way. There is no one right way; every way has validity. When one understands this, then there is no inclination to change anyone as we become more open-minded, tolerant and receptive to learning new ways of doing things, taking our relationships to another healthier level.
As long as we wait and wish for someone else to change, we are disempowered and dependant on someone else for our happiness. So in a way, they control us. Acceptance of others is not resignation. It is enjoying and celebrating the uniqueness and the imperfections of others. We need to be absolutely accepting of our own imperfections. Only then can we do the same for others. Our need to change others shows our own lack of self acceptance. When we accept each other’s limitations and imperfections, there ceases to be any problems, as problems arise from non-acceptance. Acceptance solidifies relationships.
The world is our mirror image. Everything we judge in another, is something within ourselves we don’t want to face. Having the courage to accept this aspect of ourselves, help changing our part of the world for the better. The beauty of being honest with oneself and looking clearly and directly is that the answer is always there in the situation itself. We have the power to imagine better. We cannot change our reality, but we can surely change our perception of this reality. Change is a process, not an event. Each person has his own private learning time and no one can interfere with this sacred process.
And when change does happen voluntarily, from within, it comes with its own eureka-moment accompanied by wisdom, knowledge and contentment. Drum-rolls and mental cart-wheels follow!
It is always a happy place to be in.
Note: Kamalrukh Khan is a Mumbai-based Clinical Hypnotherapist and Wellness Coach. She’s intuitive, strong and positive and loves travelling. She believes travelling to a new country is the best education she can give her kids. Painting and flying a plane or chopper top her bucket-list.